Gama spoke to Michael Dreyer, Vice President Asia Pacific of Koelnmesse, ahead of the latest edition of Wine & Gourmet Japan in Tokyo.
What are your day to day activities as Vice President Asia Pacific?
As VP Asia Pacific, I oversee the activities and finances of all the Koelnmesse subsidiaries in Asia Pacific: we have offices in Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Taipei, Hongkong, Macau, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. I coordinate with the country heads of the company on a daily basis, discussing strategic direction, financial targets and business development matters. A large proportion of my time goes into communication and interaction with partners, key account customers and official institutions such as trade ministries, relevant associations and MNCs. This is a very wide variety of different contacts, as the scope of our events encompasses sectors from carpentry and furniture, hand tools and hardware to food, but also renewable energies, emissions trading and dental equipment, as well as computer graphics and animation. I travel extensively and a large part of my time is dedicated to this.
How many people work in the organisation before and during the fair?
That depends on the scale and category of the trade fair. In the case of Wine & Gourmet Japan, we have a designated team of 6 full-time staff, focusing on managing the project within the company. In addition to this, the team is supported by our representatives, a list of appointed partners, contractors, and temporary staff onsite to help us ensure the success of the event.
What are your expectations for this edition of Wine & Gourmet Japan?
This year Wine & Gourmet Japan once again managed to grow by around 5% in terms of exhibition space, the sixth year of consecutive growth since 2009. In terms of visitors we also expect single-digit growth.
The product exhibits during Wine & Gourmet Japan 2015 will once again have a strong focus on national and international wine and gourmet food products such as Greek Assyrtiko wines and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese from Italy. We are seeing a growing number of beer and spirits companies trying to enter the market over the past year as well. A Finnish vodka firm and a German brewery will be among the companies represented, for example.
What are your plans to further develop Wine & Gourmet Japan?
We will continue to focus on our existing strength in the wine & gourmet food segment but will also adapt to the changing demands and trends of the industry. Our team is constantly looking to introduce innovative and market-driven segments. For example, in 2016 a new segment focusing on the growing spirits & bar industry will find a platform at Wine & Gourmet Japan.
What key trends do you expect to shape alcoholic drinks innovation in 2015?
Especially in Japan, we can see that consumers are getting more adventurous with their tastes. Notably in the case of younger consumers, their tastebuds are being drawn away from traditional drinks like sake and more towards wines and spirits. In the wine industry, we are able to see that the traditional wine-producing countries like Italy and France are losing ground, and the new world wine producers such as Chile and South Africa are expanding their market share. Consumers in Japan are getting open to trying new products, and I believe that this trend will continue in the coming years.
What should manufacturers do to be successful in the current economic climate?
Today’s economy is characterized by globalizing and trend-setting markets. Consumer expectations are growing and their appetite for innovative products is huge. To compete in this current environment, companies are looking into the quality of their products as well as the presentation and potential reach of non-conventional media. Aside from this, it is imperative to expand to new markets, and a trade fair is still the perfect platform for new business.